Superman has the power of flight, and Wonder Woman can navigate an invisible jet. It’s not as widely advertised, but vegans have a superpower as well. What is it? The ability to scope out animal ingredients in packaged foods within seconds.
I have had non-vegans look at me with wonder when I’ve put a product back after a glance.
“How did you know just like that?”
Somehow, words like whey, L Cysteine, and egg whites pop out as if I had X-ray vision.
However, with the new cookbook by Nicole Axworthy & Lisa Pitman, my label reading prowess can get a rest.
In DIY Vegan, they show how to make pantry staples like homemade cereal & granola, crackers, croutons, chips, jams, non-dairy milks and cheeses. While many people think that making your own sauces, breads, and seasonings requires loads of time, Lisa & Nicole show that many of those items can come together quickly in the kitchen. Plus, in the long-term it’s often cheaper to go homemade, and you avoid needless packaging, sweeteners, salt, and preservatives.
I have been reading Lisa and Nicole’s blogs, Vegan Culinary Crusade and A Dash of Compassion respectively, for many years now. I featured Lisa in my V List video series a couple of years ago. And I was able to spend time with them that didn’t involve screens at Vida Vegan Con in Portland and Austin. The same warmth and gentle spirit that they portray on their blogs shines in real life.
Since I received a copy of DIY Vegan, I’ve had a chance to make several things. First up, baba ganoush and sweet potato hummus.
For several years I lived in Glendale, California, which is home to many transplants from Armenia. Armenian restaurants abound with the best baba ganoush (also called mutabal) that you’ve ever had in your life. Since I left Glendale, I’ve had some serious letdowns eating baba ganoush elsewhere that was missing that signature smokiness I crave. Like the old song goes, “If you can’t be with the one you love, honey, love the one you’re with.” And I’ve made do with the baba ganoush I’ve got. However, I have missed the good stuff something fierce.
I’ve made my own several times, and it was pretty good, but it still didn’t take me to the heights I’d hoped. So when I saw the baba ganoush recipe in DIY Vegan it was with cautious hope that I compiled the simple ingredients of roasted eggplant, garlic, tahini, lemon juice, and the tiniest dash of smoked paprika.
When I opened the food processor and dipped in with a spoon, there it was. Creamy, smoky, garlicky, salty goodness just aching for crisp pita. This is a recipe I know I’ll be making again and again. It doesn’t take a lot of time or effort, but the key is in the details. It is everything I was looking for in a baba ganoush.
The sweet potato hummus has the bright orange color and dimension of sweetness you’d expect from the tuber inside of it. With the inclusion of curry powder, cumin, and smoked paprika, it has an extra spicy kick that adds for something unexpected from day to day hummus. (FYI: They also have a traditional hummus recipe in DIY Vegan that I haven’t tried yet.)
I made a batch of their ranch dressing and slathered it on my salads. It is cashew and chia based, and I appreciated that the apple cider vinegar didn’t overpower as it sometimes does in ranch recipes.
One day I made buffalo tofu and garlicky kale with fava beans for lunch. I poured a generous helping of ranch dressing on top, and it balanced the spicy tofu beautifully.
Lastly, David and I were invited to a gathering at the home of friends. I decided to bring Peanut Butter Cup Popcorn to share. The house was filled with people of all ages – young children to grandparents – but David and I were the only vegans in attendance. The popcorn, which was covered in a nutty peanut sauce and a generous drizzling of chocolate was universally enjoyed, and I returned home with crumbs.
I made a few simple changes to the recipe based on my own laziness and preferences. I used my air popper for the popcorn, instead of popping it on the stove. I replaced the coconut oil in the chocolate sauce with vegan butter instead, and I opted to melt the chocolate chips in the microwave instead of a double boiler. (It took 50 seconds to melt them, stopping a couple of times to stir the chips.) I’ve made caramel corn in the past, and I was expecting a similar amount of work, but this recipe was user-friendly and simple. I’m thinking of making it again for Thanksgiving or Christmas.
Lisa, Nicole, and the publisher, St. Martin’s Griffin, have generously agreed to share the recipe below for Peanut Butter Cup Popcorn.
Plus, they are offering a copy of DIY Vegan for giveaway. It’s open to readers in the United States & Canada. To enter, just leave a comment on this post telling me about your favorite homemade pantry staples or what you would most like to make from DIY Vegan. The giveaway ends November 24th. The winner will be chosen randomly. (Update: The giveaway has ended. Congrats to Kris!)